Well, here we are, April. My family and I recently experienced a major life change. We returned back from an amazing overseas adventure which has definitely changed us. We got to experience so many incredible opportunities as a result of this last assignment and met some equally incredible people who will remain life long friends. We were able to see places we may otherwise have not been able to see and we really dove head first into the new culture that surrounded us while living abroad.
Doesn’t that all sound just annoyingly positive?!?! Well, lemme tell ya…the last few months have been far from glamorous. An overseas move, or any move for that matter, is what I would like to call controlled chaos. The main difference in an overseas move is your “air mattress” lifestyle simply begins that much sooner. Let the record show…I don’t enjoy change. It makes me uncomfortable. And yet, with each move, there is nothing but change ahead of you. A new city; a new job; a new church; meeting new people that may or may not “get you;” a new social circle; constantly having to introduce yourself and share your story and try to remember the names of the new people you met…the list goes on. I feel I thrive best in routine and structure and knowing what, for the most part, is to come from each day. However, that can also cause us to become complacent in our journey. While I know we are not to be complacent and change can challenge us to grow and become better versions of ourselves blah, blah, blah…I still don’t have to like it while (or whilst) I’m in it, okay?! God doesn’t want us to be complacent. He didn’t create us to simply have a “status quo” type of life. He doesn’t want us to simply go through the motions of life and miss out on opportunities for greatness. He has made you and me to be His hands and feet in this world and make a difference. However, I have allowed one major theme in my life to hold me back from all that He wants me to be and all that He has created me to become.
Body Image & Food
That is my baggage. These words and all they encompass are what is and has held me back from who knows how many life changing opportunities and experiences God has purposefully laid out for my life. My own insecurities about my physical body and how I use food as a reward or a punishment for myself. This is me. Totally transparent and raw. Sharing with you, my “secret sin” as a means to 1) be held accountable to change this theme and 2) hopefully in sharing my struggle with this particular anchor, you will know you’re not alone and be encouraged that through God and with God we will both overcome this battle.
I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I genuinely felt comfortable in my own skin. I share this, not as a woe is me and feel pity for me moment, but as a means of being authentic to what I want to change about myself and no longer allow a hold on my life. I allow how I feel about my body to dictate my behavior and my value. If I “feel fat” then I am not worthy of food because obviously I am not showing enough self control within this area of my life. If I feel “gross” then that must be how everyone else views me therefore you must withhold nutrients from yourself to regain control of the situation. My value and my worth are in direct correlation with what I physically look like. Thoughts oftentimes run rampant in my head, “How can I call myself a fitness instructor or be in the “fitness” industry to any capacity if I don’t look the part?” “What type of impact can you possibly make on that client? You don’t have a six pack, so how could you possibly hold any credibility?” “You’ve not competed in years, how do you actually think you can help them?” In a rational state of mind these do not make much sense; however, the Satan doesn’t plant seeds of doubt in areas where we feel confident, but in areas where we struggle. Satan knows exactly where our struggles and insecurities are and uses those to pull us farther away from the job God has called us to do.
In the church we have found in our new city, they’ve begun a sermon series entitled “What’s Next.” I tell you what, when the pastor said the title, I felt that God was literally tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘Hey, Erin, sit up and get your best listening ears on-you better be paying full attention to this, because this…yeah, it’s for you.’ I’ve been battling with this exact question for what seems to be ages. What’s next? What am I to be doing? What is my purpose? Each and every one of those questions I don’t feel I have had a clear and concise answer. I’ve “prayed” about it, sure. That’s what “good Christians” do; however, those prayers tend to look more instructions for God–you know because He sooooooo needs my help on what’s best for me. He didn’t create the entire heaven and the earth and all in seven days on His own or anything; but, yeah He needs my help in this area for sure. You know, because I’ve handled it so well up to this point.
So, the pastor gets into the sermon, which I’m laser focused on because he is surely going to give me step by step instructions on how best to do “what’s next.” The pastor proceeds to explain there are four steps to discovering what’s next for your life; however, you cannot move on from one step before completing the previous step. I’m sitting in my seat pen at the ready to jot down the steps fully thinking that I’ve got this in the bag–like game on, son–and then he begins. 1) Know God. Me….check. Got that one on lock. 2) Find Freedom. Me…okay? What in the world does that mean? The pastor begins to explain that “finding freedom” is dealing with your “secret sin”–that “thing” that if it wasn’t in your life, your life would be a whole lot better. I squirm in my seat. He continues. 3) Discover Purpose. Me…..Ughhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! 4) Make a difference. Me….so wait, I can’t figure out what my purpose is and make a difference until I deal with this “secret sin” in my life and if I’ve not dealt with it then my purpose may not fully be revealed to me or I may be in pursuit of the wrong one?!?! (Why yes, this is me whining in case you were wondering.) I don’t like this step because I know what that means. It means change. Change makes me uncomfortable. It means I am going to have to actually deal with this whole body image and insecurities and food issues once and for all. It means it’s going to be messy and emotional and raw and ewwwwww. (Yes, still whining.)
Ughhhhh. Lemme tell you I would much rather suppress these emotions and demons to the depths of my toes than to actually deal with them. Let’s be honest, that’s a heck of a lot easier. But, if I am to discover what my purpose on this earth is so that I can make a difference for the glory of God (deep breath)–we are going to have to deal with it head on. So, how? How do I win the battle of negative self talk that always leaves me feeling less than worthy? How do I win the battle when negative self talk is really loud and overwhelming? How do I stop withholding food as a means of punishing myself for perceived “bad days” and giving those thoughts credibility? How do I stop the binging and purging cycle that has plagued my life for far longer than I truly care to admit? How? How do I overcome the feeling of shame these actions have created? How?
Step 1) Admit my struggle.
Step 2) Come up with a plan of attack when the thoughts come to the forefront of my mind. Because they will. They will come forward because Satan will always attack when and where we are most vulnerable. But here is the beauty–WE are NOT what Satan says we are; but, WE ARE what God says we are: In Christ WE are FREE (Gal. 5:1); In Christ WE are WORTHY (Psalm 71:5); In Christ WE are ACCEPTED and ACCEPTABLE (Romans 15:7); In Christ WE are CHOSEN, HOLY, and dearly LOVED (Col. 3:12). There are more, but how truly remarkable are these verses to remind you and I that no matter what Satan is going to throw our direction, we can combat him with these verses which essentially are telling him to “sod off” (ode to ye ole Britannia) and what he is saying or trying to say is NOT TRUE.
Step 3) Surround myself with people who will not allow me to fall short, but will also pick me back up and encourage me and speak truth into my life when I am doubting.
Step 4) Do not give up.
This isn’t a fool proof plan and it’s going to be messy and it’s going to be emotional and it’s going to have pitfalls. However, I am unwilling to give up this time and I am going to be relentless in finding my freedom. I have lived with this albatross on my back for entirely too long. I have missed out on far too much out of fear and insecurity over my physical body and I. AM. DONE. I don’t know what your anchor, your albatross, your “secret sin” is; but are YOU willing to become vulnerable and raw with me? Are YOU willing to put forth the effort and energy to finally be rid of what’s been holding you back from all God has for your life? It’s going to be a challenge and it definitely won’t be a picture perfect journey; but I’m willing to do the work necessary so I can FIND MY FREEDOM and discover my purpose. Are you?
Until next time…
PS: if you would like to see the sermons series I am referring to
click the link: What’s Next